YEP Says, January 16: In a child-friendly city, can £22m of cuts be justified?

Children's centres are among those that could see their funding cut.
Children's centres are among those that could see their funding cut.
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There is an argument that Children’s Services should be exempt from savings.

HUGE cuts in Government funding mean Leeds City Council has no option but to slash its spending.

At the same time, however, circumstances dictate that there are some areas where savings are harder to justify than others.

The council’s Children’s Services department, for instance, is under enormous pressure. The last decade has seen the birth rate jump by a third, while a changing demographic mix brings its own challenges.

Then there is the fact that the difficult economic climate and its impact on families means more people are having to turn to the council for help. The number of referrals to social care services is also on the rise.

Yet, against this backdrop, it is proposed that spending in this vital area is cut by over £22m a year.

This will be offset to some degree by an above inflation rise of 8.3 per cent in nursery fees to £39 a day – despite parents already struggling to afford childcare.

Meanwhile, nearly £2m will be slashed from children’s centres which provide such valuable support to new parents. Financial help for worthy educational projects such as Herd Farm and Lineham Farm will also be reviewed.

This must be a major concern at a time when the council is striving to make Leeds a “child-friendly city”.

The pressure brought to bear on council budgets means difficult decisions are inevitable. For many, however, these will be seen as cuts too far.

School’s stunning change in fortunes

YESTERDAY was the deadline for parents of children who will be ready to start school in September to apply for places.

In many cases it will have been an agonising decision as to which school to put down as first choice.

Ofsted ratings can often be a big factor – and on that front, for the first time in years, Farnley Academy has nothing to worry about.

Having been given notice to improve in 2010, it has now been rated outstanding in its latest inspection.

The remarkable transformation is testament to the efforts of the headteacher, staff and pupils – and shows just what can happen when they all pull together.

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